Jonathan Creek

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Jump to: navigation, search

A cult British Detective Drama about the eponymous Jonathan Creek (Alan Davies), a magician's assistant with a keen eye for detail and lateral thinking who helps a journalist, Maddy Magellan (Caroline Quentin)—and later, Carla Burrego (Julia Sawalha) in Season 4 and Joey Ross (Sheridan Smith) in the most recent specials—solve mysteries involving seemingly impossible crimes, often a Locked Room Mystery. Written by David Renwick, otherwise known for One Foot in the Grave, the two shows share his trademark intricate plotting and black sense of humour.

The show's chief theme was the same one expressed by Sherlock Holmes in his aphorism "Once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth". Jonathan would explain that most people are much more willing to consider something 'impossible' or invent a supernatural explanation, than allow themselves to believe that a man would put himself to the trouble of arranging a complex set of events to make it look that way. Jonathan takes this one step further by pointing out that most people are eager to believe extraordinary phenomena simply because the solutions are mind-numbingly banal: “People beg me to explain, but it’s the last thing you want to hear. Because I’m disproving a miracle.”

Jonathan's employer, Adam Klaus, became a regularly appearing character from the second season, usually in a comic-relief subplot rather than getting involved in the mystery-solving. (Although a skilled magician, Adam is also a great big jerk.)

Seasons 1-3 aired between 1997 and 2000. A Christmas special aired in 2001, introducing TV presenter Carla Burrego as Maddy's replacement and was followed by a full fourth season in 2003-04. Although a full revival seems unlikely, there have been a couple of feature-length specials (featuring third female sidekick, Joey Ross), one at New Year 2009, and one at Easter 2010.

Tropes used in Jonathan Creek include:
  • Abuse Is Okay When Its Female On Male: Used as a plot-point in "The Scented Room" in which Lady Theresa's abuse of her husband is first seen as amusing (when she puts stinging nettle in her Jerkass husband's sandwich) and then deadly serious when she hits him over the back of the head with a trowel. Later, after a valuable painting mysteriously vanishes, her husband uses this head wound to make it seem as though he'd been attacked by an intruder in order to claim money from the insurance company. A witness also points out that Lady Theresa's behaviour is completely inappropriate, especially in front of her young son.
  • Always Murder: Averted, although murder is involved in at least half the stories.
  • Amateur Sleuth: Jonathan - very reluctantly.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Gideon Pryke's deputy Sgt Richie in "Black Canary"; in an episode-long Running Gag, Jonathan and Maddy disagree on his/her gender and have a £10 bet - just before the resolution, they spot him/her heading for the end of a corridor with male toilets and one side and female on the other, but Pryke closes the door before they can see. Amusingly at the end they've managed to switch positions and each try to pay the other - neither they nor the viewers find out which it was. The character was played by a man.
  • Appeal to Audacity: Happened quite a lot, in which suspects and witnesses alike would come up with ridiculous stories - and Jonathan would believe every word, working with the logic that if they were truly covering for a crime, they'd hardly be stupid enough to come up with a story that no one would ever believe.
  • As Himself: In one episode, Adam appears on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. The various notable actors from other BBC series whose pictures can be seen on the walls in the offices of the company behind Eyes and Ears might also be a partial example.
  • Asshole Victim: Often. Sometimes if the crime is something less serious than murder, this is enough for Jonathan and Maddy to conceal the truth from them (although this leads to Fridge Logic considering Maddy writes up all the stories for publication).
    • "The Scented Room" shows Maddy explaining to her psychiatrist that unfortunately she won't be able to publish the story, since she and Jonathan sided with the perpetrator against the Asshole Victim. Presumably she doesn't publish other cases of the sort as well. Out of interest, the Asshole Victim in this particular case wasn't a murder victim, but simply a smarmy critic who had a valuable painting stolen.
  • Authentication by Newspaper: Subverted in the 2008 special.
  • Badass Bystander: In "The Scented Room", a little old lady watches Adam get nailed into a coffin to be lowered into the ground as part of an endurance test. Unfortunately, she thinks they're gangsters, and attacks them with a tree branch, a can of mace, and a whistle. She manages to take out three grown men!
  • Banana Peel: After seeing an advertisement invoking this trope, Jonathan tries to prove that it could never happen. He finally slips and falls backwards... but is still proved correct considering it was actually a dog turd that he slipped on.
  • Best Served Cold: The central plot behind "The Judas Tree".
  • Big Eater: Maddy.

I don't know what I want, I'm not even hungry. A drop of chili will do me, with some rice. And a spot of salad...and some garlic bread. A jacket potato. Oh, and some crisps.

  • Black Comedy Rape: In a deleted scene in "The Grinning Man", Joey's actress friend Mina gives her tickets to her new play and warns her that there's a graphic rape scene. Cut to Mina getting taken from behind by a man in a papier-mâché bull's head making loud mooing noises.
  • British Brevity: A very notable example, because Renwick needs a lot of time to formulate each locked room mystery.
  • Broken Pedestal: Jonathan lampshades this when he finds he's about to meet his hero, hardcore prog-rock icon Roy Pilgrim:

Jonathan: I can't go in there.
Maddy: Why not?
Jonathan: Roy Pilgrim! I can't meet Roy Pil... you're talking about mythology! You reduce someone like that to flesh and blood, the whole thing's destroyed, the whole icon...
Maddy: Jonathan, you're beginning to sound like a prat.

    • Sure enough, a minor case ensues; Jonathan is struck dumb with mild disillusionment when he learns that Pilgrim is a devoted viewer of The Waltons.
  • The Butler Did It: Played straight in "Black Canary".
  • The Cassandra: Jack Holiday's wife, who insists that a recently released prisoner was responsible for her husband's death, despite all evidence to the contrary.
  • Cat Fight: Actually manages to be an important plot-point in "Angel Hair".
  • Chekhov's Skill: Card-throwing in "The Three Gamblers".
    • And in the same episode, Maddy's ability to faint convincingly.
  • Christmas Episode: Three so far, all movie-length, two of which were also introductory episodes to Jonathan's new sidekicks.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Maddy. Not particularly clingy, but at one stage she gets so irritated with Jonathan that she locks him out of her apartment simply because she saw another woman getting into his car.
  • Clueless Mystery: Not used often, but at least once or twice. In one episode, which looked like a Locked Room Mystery, the victim was apparently stabbed in the back with a sword but the actual murder weapon was a drug which made him hallucinate violently and lose his balance while trying to climb a bookcase and fall on his own sword. While there were clues to what the murder weapon was, the murderer was not well-known to any characters and never appeared on camera.
  • Completely Missing the Point: When Carla freaks out over the fact that her husband was once married to a man, all he can do is casually chide her about the fact that she's being "a bit homophobic."
  • Connect the Deaths: Deconstructed/critized in the episode "The Coonskin Cap" in which Carla's crime show speculates that a recent serial killer is targeting women that have floral names, the three victims being called Rose, Iris and Heather. It turns out that two murders were the work of a disturbed young woman who had no discernable motive and the third was by a police officer who used the first two deaths as a cover for his own murder. The names were a coincidence, but until it was cleared up, Jonathan points out that thanks to the show's fear-mongering, women named after flowers were scared out of their wits (including a publicist called "Coral", at least until Jonathan tells her that coral is actually an animal).
  • Continuity Error: An In-Universe example in "Angel Hair". Disgusted at her boss's adultery with an air-line hostess, Dorothy tries to make it appear as though the woman has faked her own kidnapping in order to extort money from her lover. This involves a bunch of actors grabbing the woman off the street and having her read out a ransom note, and then cutting off her hair for good measure. Unfortunately, directly prior to this, the wife catches her husband and his lover kissing on the front lawn and engages in a hair-pulling Cat Fight with her rival. When Dorothy puts in the tape that she supposedly found in the woman's suitcase (though she planted it there herself) and presses play (though she's actually recording the staged kidnapping that is happening live), it poses a serious continuity problem considering the kidnappers display the day's newspaper directly before cutting off all the woman's hair, making it look like she got her hair cut off in the morning, only to grow it all back again by that same afternoon. The Cat Fight rendered the possibility of a wig or hair extensions completely impossible.
  • Cut Apart: It looks like two people are on opposite sides of a locked door and one even rattles the handle as the other watches, but it later turns out that this was an extremely elaborate trick and they were in two separate locations.
  • Deal with the Devil: "The Curious Tale of Mr Spearfish" revolves around a man who thinks he's made one of these.
  • Defective Detective: Subverted somewhat; Jonathan was a bit weird and anti-social, but often came across as more down-to-earth and well-adjusted than Maddy and especially Carla.
  • Derailing Love Interests: Nicola from "The Grinning Man" dumps Jonathan in order to run off with a man she's never met.
  • Detective Drama
  • Drives Like Crazy: The DI in "Mother Redcap" which greatly unnerves Jonathan.
    • Maddy, at times. At one point Jonathan freaks out because she's dialing a number on her cellphone whilst driving.
    • Subverted with Jonatha, who when forced to drive Maddy's car, drives so slowly and carefully that it creates a pile-up behind him. When asked whether he's ever driven an automatic before, he replies: "I've never driven a car before!" One hilarious Gilligan Cut later, and Maddy's is back in the driver's seat.
  • Embarrassing First Name: 'Adam' Klaus, called 'Chester' by his sister.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Jonathan is first seen in a grocery store, mentally tallying up the numbers that appear on the checkout computer screen and then insisting that the total sum is wrong. One manager with a calculator later, the checkout is closed thanks to the faulty equipment. What further establishes his character (slightly weird but essentially decent and good-hearted) is that it's the shopping of the woman in front of him that he's figuring out is charged wrong, not his own.
    • Adam Klaus is first seen making a heartfelt and sincere thank you to an audience, calling them the best crowd he's ever performed for. The next camera shot reveals that it's an empty theatre, and he's just rehearsing.
  • Eureka Moment: ex-Trope Namer.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: "The House of Monkeys".
  • Fair Play Whodunnit: The audience typically has the same set of clues that Jonathan does (bar one or two pieces of evidence - often police or medical records - that would make the result too easy), but the solutions often take a bit of lateral thinking, making this an interesting case.
    • Also subverted in that the audience rarely knows whether an episode is going to be a whodunnit or a howdunnit until The Summation.
  • Fake American: in-show one, with Adam Klaus.
    • Actually it's difficult to be sure - Stuart Milligan, who took over the role after the first episode, is from Boston, MA and uses his real accent in the show. If it were just a stage accent Klaus used for effect you'd expect him to talk differently in private. However, in one episode Adam Klaus's (much) older sister appeared, and she had a strong Scottish accent.
    • A semi-plausible explanation could be that Klaus's parents emigrated while young, and his sister being much older and presumably independent of their parents by that time stayed in Scotland... however, this is pure conjecture. Interestingly nobody ever comments on Klaus's or his sister's differing accents during that entire episode.
    • Alternatively, he's a Fake American who's been doing it so often for so long that he ended up Becoming the Mask.
    • Alternatively alternatively, as he was played by Antony Stewart Head doing a rather less convincing American accent (although looking spectacularly sexy in his on-stage outfit) in the first episode he may have originally been conceived as being a more obvious Fake American which was politely forgotten about once he was replaced by Stuart Milligan, then when an episode touching on his past did come up the original backstory was used. Again, it's pure conjecture, but that kind of thing does happen.
      • No matter what explanation you prefer, Klaus is obviously a jerk and a shiester, but obviously a skilled performer obsessed with his own image, so all of the above are easily within his character.
  • Fan Boy: In "No Trace Of Tracy", Jonathan completely geeks out when he gets to investigate a case surrounding his prog-rock idol, Roy Pilgrim.
    • Jonathan meets a group of his own look-alike fanboys (complete with long shaggy hair) in "Miracle on Crooked Lane". On seeing a photo of them all lined up at a table Maddy comments: "I see what you mean about the last supper."
  • Finger in the Mail: The titular hair in "Angel Hair".
  • Funny Background Event: Twice. In "No Trace of Tracy", Maddy interviews a man in a sound-proof room whilst his colleagues have a brawl in the two-way mirror behind them, and in "Time Waits for Norman", Maddy holds a conversation with a man outside his house whilst Jonathan snoops around for clues and gets attacked by a vicious Jack Russell. A dismayed Maddy sees all this through the bay windows.
    • What makes it even funnier is that the man then walks to into a different house.
  • Gaslighting: In "The Judas Tree". Jonathan also refers to the Trope Namer during the episode.
  • Gender Blender Name: Joey Ross in the 2009 special, the character being played by an actress who herself has a Gender Blender Name, Sheridan Smith.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: No affair is ever portrayed in a positive light, though many occur in understandable circumstances.
    • The Unresolved Sexual Tension between Jonathan and Carla in season four is based on the fact that she's married to another man, and yet still obviously attracted to Jonathan. Somewhat Deconstructed however in that Jonathan has no interest whatsoever in messing around with a married woman, despite his rather low opinion of Carla's husband.
  • Groin Attack: "Black Canary" has a very, very nasty example indeed.
  • Haven't You Seen X Before?: "Time Waits for Norman":

Maddy: Yes, all right. Haven't you ever seen a transvestite before?

  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Possibly second only to Doctor Who for having a reputation for well-known British actors in unlikely roles.
    • The Fifth Doctor as a vicar in "Danse Macabre".
    • The Sixth is the murder victim in the pilot episode.
    • And the Eighth appears in the 2010 Easter special "The Judas Tree".
      • The vicar from the same episode is Churchill!
      • While Jonathan's partner in "The Grinning Man" and "The Judas Tree" is the Eighth Doctor's audio companion Lucie Miller.
    • ... and Romana appears in "Satan's Chimney".
    • Comedian Bob Monkhouse as the Asshole Victim Sylvester Le Fley in "The Scented Room" - Monkhouse later used this as an example for his comment "my non-comedic acting roles tend to be the sort of person who would keep their cocoa warm by burning down an orphanage".
    • "Black Canary" features Rik Mayall as Gideon Pryke, Kate Isitt as Charlotte, and Sanjeev Bhaskar as a doctor.
    • "The Curious Tale of Mr Spearfish" had Griff Rhys Jones as a lawyer
    • Adrian Edmondson appears in a recurring role as Carla Borrego's husband in Series 4.
    • Comedian Jack Dee in "Angel Hair" as a songwriter who married a pop starlet.
    • Hattie Hayridge appears as a comedy magician.
    • A somewhat obscure one: One of Adam's girlfriends was Eurydice in Jim Henson's The Storyteller.
    • Nigel Planer shows up as Maddy's blind date in "The Reconstituted Corpse".
    • Margret appears as Jonathan's doctor and the wife of the murder victim in "The House of Monkeys".
    • Gillian Bailey in "Gorgon's Wood" is also Prince Arthur's mother.
    • Eddy shows up in Season 1 as a band member and Season 2 as a bum.
    • Geoffrey McGivern appears in a few episodes as Maddy's publicist.
    • Bill Bailey appears twice as street performer Kenny Starkiss.
  • Hypocritical Humour: Meta example--Alistair McGowan appeared in the pilot episode, but later repeatedly mocked the show's complicated plots on his own show The Big Impression. One sketch has McGowan, as Creek, trying to give The Summation by coming up with increasingly far-fetched solutions implicating each unlikely suspect in turn, while ignoring a man in the corner carrying an axe, covered in blood and grinning.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Several times. There is even one example where someone gets impaled by two spikes at the same time.
  • Informed Ability: Although certainly clever and brave, Joey is initially introduced as Jonathan's intellectual equal, described on a television show as "someone whose powers of deduction and truly phenomenal flair for solving seemingly impossibly puzzles are beyond cool." Yet apart from ascertaining that the Nightmare Room is inescapable and discovering a clue that Jonathan misses (one which she slightly misinterprets), she doesn't solve any part of the mystery, and eventually admits: "I'm out of my depth here."
    • In "The Judas Tree", Adam describes her to Jonathan as someone who is: "every bit as smart as you." Except...she's really not, and once again she doesn't provide any meaningful insight into the mystery they're trying to solve.
    • This is really a case of demonstrating that while some characters may be decent investigators, Jonathan is the Always Someone Better. This also applies to Mimi Tranter in "Ghosts Forge" and Gideon Pryke in "Black Canary", both of whom are initially introduced as a match for Creek but are always trumped in the end.
  • Innocent Innuendo: Happens quite a few times; usually with Maddy. At one point she tells Jonathan over the phone: "I need you, here in my bedroom." The next scene shows Jonathan taking off his shoes and getting on the bed while Maddy watches nervously...only for Jonathan to reach up and tip the cockroach on the ceiling into a glass jar.
    • There was also a very dark usage of this in "Gorgon's Wood", in which a videotape is found showing what appears to be a young woman having a screaming orgasm. Turns out the camera had tipped onto its side, and what everyone was seeing was her getting impaled against a tree by a large garden fork.
  • Inn of No Return: "Mother Redcap".
  • Interdisciplinary Sleuth: Jonathan designs conjuring tricks for a living and is relectantly brought in to the world of crime-fighting by a chance meeting and a love of puzzles.
    • Maddy (and Carla and Joey, for that matter) technically avert this trope. While none of them are cops or law enforcement, they are all journalists of different sorts specializing in crime stories.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Both Maddy and Carla will go to considerable lengths to land a story.
  • Knife-Throwing Act
  • Lethal Chef: Maddy. Almost literally - Jonathan is appalled to find that she's got a canister of petrol in her kitchen at the same time the gas stove is on. On fire, specifically. The meal turned out alright, funnily enough.
  • Locked Room Mystery: Pretty much the show's trademark, and often Lampshaded. Even if the mystery isn't literally in a locked room, it will inevitably be an "impossible" mystery in the same vein.
  • Loving a Shadow: Played rather poignantly in "Ghosts Forge". Initially Robin Priest seems like a jerk for cheating on his wife with the vile Mimi Tranter. By the end of the episode it turns out that Shirley is not only not his wife but that he was only attracted to Mimi because of her resemblance to his real wife. Though the show never explicitly spells it out, the portraits displayed throughout Ghosts Forge explain why he was so instantly drawn to her, even though he probably didn't understand the attraction himself.
  • Magician Detective: Jonathan's a magician's assistant technically, but he has far more knowledge of the material even than the magician itself, so he definately counts.
  • Meet Cute: Jonathan and Maddy meet at a magic show when Jonathan mistakes Maddy's thumb for a cocktail sausage and sticks a toothpick into it.
  • Mood Whiplash: "The Grinning Man" has a plot about a stage magician killing people and just generally being a Magnificent Bastard and a sub-plot about... 3-D porn.
  • Moral Dissonance: The end of "The Judas Tree" in which a pregnant woman is killed and a girl is framed and sent to jail for a crime she didn't commit. The whole thing was a set-up for a crime they committed when they were teenagers. Jonathan and Joey know the entire story, and yet apparently decide to keep quiet.
    • It's not so much they decide to keep quiet as they actually can't prove any of it. Harriet Dore directly states that Jonathan's previous failure in court will pretty much destroy any credibility he has in presenting any new telling of events. Additionally the housekeeper who is also aware of the truth pretty firmly tells the pair that because she overheard it from a confession box, she's obligated to keep it a secret.
  • Mummies At the Dinner Table: In the episode "The Seer of the Sands".
  • My Sibling Will Live Through Me
  • Naked People Are Funny: "Mother Redcap".
  • The Power of Acting: Carla reminds Jonathan in "Satan's Chimney" that all the suspects are trained actors who will naturally be able to put up a convincing show of grief for the murder victim.
  • Only Sane Employee: Jonathan's role within the Alan Klaus magic act appears to be all the first three entries in the Real Life section of this trope at once.
  • Operation: Jealousy: Maddy tries this in "The Reconstituted Corpse", but unfortunately her date ends up looking and acting like (in Jonathan's words) "The bastard son of Forrest Gump."
  • The Perfect Crime: Well, all of them to one extent or other, but special mention but go to the killer in "Jack in the Box", considering everything, including his own suicide goes according to plan, and the master-mind behind the events in "Angel Hair" who was thwarted by completely unforeseen circumstances, and still got what she wanted out of the entire exercise, though not in the way she planned: getting her employer to stop cheating on his wife.
  • Poor Communication Kills: That damn harvest fly.
  • Put on a Bus to Hell: This didn't exactly happen to Carla Burrego, but in "The Grinning Man" she still gets a rather mean-spirited mention, in which Jonathan Creek learns that she's been telling people that he died of a wasting illness. Apparently writer David Renwick and actress Julia Sawalha didn't get along, which may explain the pettiness of the comments.
  • Quote Mine: Sinister example in "Satan's Chimney", using an edited recording.
  • Rear Window Witness: In "The Problem at Gallows Gate", Adam's sister Kitty witnesses a murder through a pair of high-powered binocculars during a badger watch.
  • Red Herring: Being a mystery series, this is par for the course. There is, however, a tendency to play with and subvert the idea of a red herring - clues dismissed early on as insignificant will often come back in an unexpected way. Of course, other times it is played deadly straight.
  • Roma: In "The Seer of the Sands", a couple pose as a romantic gypsy couple in order to better con a gullible American woman.
  • Rube Goldberg Hates Your Guts: "Satan's Chimney" and "The Grinning Man", to name two examples.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules: Jonathan in "The Scented Room", when Asshole Victim Le Fley (who had given scathing criticism to Jonathan's magic shows in the past) offers a huge financial reward for finding his missing painting.

Jonathan: I know exactly how your painting was stolen, Mr Le Fley. I'm just not going to tell you.

  • Shoot the Rope: Done fantastically in Black Canary. A very decrepit old man manages to snipe the rope of someone who attempted to hang herself from at least 300 feet, and finishes off by nonchalantly saying "Well, my eyes still work."
  • The Summation: Every episode, always intercut with scenes of the crime itself being committed.
    • Averted in "The Judas Tree", where all we see is Jonathan's hypothesis and the implication that it is true, quite a way before the end of the episode.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Maddy to Carla, and then Carla to Joey.
    • Although the Unresolved Sexual Tension common to Maddy and Carla is averted for the most part with Joey. Otherwise played straight.
  • Sweetie Graffiti: A clue in "Gorgon's Wood", though it wasn't carved by "sweethearts".
  • Tap on the Head: Played straight in "No Trace of Tracy"... Which is extremely noticable considering that in just the previous episode, someone actually died from a blow to the head.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Andre Masson rigs up his suicide to make it look as though he's been murdered by one of his employees.
  • Theme Song Reveal: In the episode "Satan's Chimney", Allan Kallanak's first appearance shows him rehearsing his escape act to the sound of the Eurythmics' Missionary Man. In hindsight, this not only gives away his identity as the killer, but his motivation as well: "don't mess with a missionary man...".
  • Time-Delayed Death
  • Toad Licking: A hallucinogenic toad turned out to be a major plot point in one episode. The toad wasn't native to England and had been imported by a local hippie colony for this very purpose. The presence of the toad, allegedly in the prime suspect's house, was what led to Jonathan solving the case he was working on.
  • Traitor Shot: Used frequently with suspects, yet Maddy was instinctively good at spotting them.
  • Tsundere: Maddy and Carla.
  • Twin Switch: Used in "The Black Canary" in which one twin takes over her sister's life after her accidental death in order to spare her family the grief. In a twist on expectations, the discovery itself wasn't a big twist - Jonathan had it figured out by the middle of the episode, and the mystery is finding out how the latter twin died (though of course, the switch played a significant part in motivation).
    • Also the basis of the same character's career. The twins were magicians and most of their act was based around the fact that the audience was unaware that the magician was actually two people.
  • Unreliable Narrator: When the crime is shown being committed in flashback during The Summation, this is often just Jonathan's hypothesis rather than what actually happened - sometimes because all the witnesses are dead, or because the suspect doesn't confirm it until after he's spoken. This rarely comes up, however - the best example is in the pilot "The Wrestler's Tomb", where we see the main suspect pulling off the impossible alibi that would let her commit the crime as Jonathan explains how it could happen - but at the end we find out she wasn't the killer, so she never did the acts shown in the earlier reconstruction scene. Heck, Jonathan even admits immediately after the aforementioned summation that while it's a working theory it hinges on too many random things going right to be plausible.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Like any good male/female detective team, Maddy and Jonathan have this in spades. Lampshaded in the first episode, when Jonathan point-blank asks Maddy if she's trying to bed him.
    • Plenty of UST with Carla as well, with the added twist that between their first and second meetings, she's got married.
    • Hinted at toward the end of Jonathan and Joey's first special together, when their respective romantic interests end up with each other at the end. Other than that, notably averted for Joey as she and Jonathan operate more Like Brother and Sister.
  • The Watson: Maddy, Carla, Joey.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Didactic?: In "Angel Hair", Jonathan works out the core mystery pretty quickly but keeps shut about it while he tries to work out the details. To help Carla along, he writes two proverbs on a piece of paper and she spends half the episode trying to find any hidden meaning in it. After spending hours agonizing over it, her husband leans over and casually notes that it's the first two lines to Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind", in the wrong order.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In the episode "The Tailor's Dummy", there is an entire subplot about Kenny helping the Mafia kidnap attractive women. Jonathan demands that Kenny get them out of trouble, or he'll go to the police, but he and Carla are imprisoned in one of the theatre's props by the men before this can happen. Kenny is last seen being dragged away by the Mafia, and neither he nor the women are ever mentioned again.
    • From "The Judas Tree": whatever happened to the man in the grass? Did anyone ever find him, or did he die out there?
  • What Have We Ear?: Jonathan and Adam do this on a few occasions (but Jonathan draws the line when Adam asks him to design a trick that allows him to pull a postage stamp from under the Queen's tongue).
  • Xanatos Roulette: The plot of "The Judas Tree" hinges on the assumption that Emily wouldn't just quit her job and the local vicar wouldn't be asked to identify the body.
    • Or that the police wouldn't do a tox screen on the body. Or a paternity test. Or look up the family of Emily's previous victim. See the Headscratchers page.
    • The first explanation Jonathan gives for how the murder could have been done in "The Wrestler's Tomb" is also a Xanatos Roulette... which is why Jonathan dismisses it as too unlikely to be plausible.
  • You Got Murder: Occurs in "The House of Monkeys" in which a self-addressed envelope laced with poison is sent to the victim. On licking the flap, he trips out on hallucinogenic drugs and manages to impale himself on a sword.