Midsomer Murders

    Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
    John Nettles as Inspector Barnaby and Jason Hughes as DS Jones.

    Eastwood: ...Barnaby is about to have the bolt of inspiration that cracks the case, solves the murders and the artefact-smuggling ring, and find out that the postmistress is getting off with the vicar, who's secretly her uncle.
    Lothar: How many times have you seen this episode?

    Eastwood: Dunno, they all blur together after a while. It's a new one, Troy isn't in it.

    British Mystery of the Week drama (1997 to present) about a police detective and his younger colleague operating in the fictional English county district of Midsomer, which appears to consist almost entirely of picturesque little villages, mostly named after the scheme "Midsomer X" - Midsomer Parva, Midsomer Mallow, Midsomer Worthy, etc.

    Has a bad case of Never One Murder (and a murder rate that ITV actually started making fun of in their adverts for this), with the killer frequently Beneath Suspicion until five minutes from the end of each two-hour film. Many episodes featured a Special Guest who turned out to be the murderer.

    Has a brilliantly apt, lilting theme tune.

    Tropes used in Midsomer Murders include:
    • Actor Allusion : In Vixen's Run, the plot kicks off when elderly Sir Freddy Butler dies at dinner. Despite there being traces of strychnine in his system, the coroner rules natural causes as strychnine is an ingredient in heart medication and Sir Freddy was rather old, fat and drunk. Several other members of his family are killed over the course of the episode by Sir Freddy's first wife Lady Annabel, played by Sian Philips. When she's taken away by Barnaby in the police car at the end she says

    Lady Annabel: I suppose you want to know how I killed Freddy.
    Barnaby: But Sir Freddy died from natural causes.
    Lady Annabel: Oh... of course.

      • Now remember what Livia did to her husband (and much of the rest of the cast) in I, Claudius...
    • Asshole Victim
    • Attack of the Town Festival : The Straw Woman had a village deciding to go ahead with a festival despite the vicar being burnt to death. The replacement vicar was then also murdered.
    • Bad Habits: Jones disguises himself as a nun to trap a muderer in "A Sacred Trust".
    • Barsetshire : The titular Midsomer district.
    • Beneath Suspicion
    • Beware the Nice Ones : One way to guess correctly who the murderer is with depressing frequency is to pick the one who is the only likable one of the lot.
    • Big Screwed-Up Family : Lots...
    • Blackmail: Lots of it, and a prime cause of death.
    • Book Ends : Tom Barnaby's final episode ends with the new guy being called out on his first Midsomer murder investigation - in Badger's Drift, the location of the murder that started the series.
    • Brother-Sister Incest : In the pilot, no less. Also appears once or twice later on.
      • Subverted in "Shot at Dawn", where the prospect is raised with respect to a newly-engaged couple who are unaware that her mother and his father have been carrying on for decades; the mother only laughs and says that she's been very careful to ensure none of her children are the result of the affair.
    • Butt Monkey : Poor Jones. Will anyone EVER treat him nicely?
    • Capital City : Causton, since its the largest and most central village/small town of the Midsomer district. Predictably, it's also the headquarters of the Midsomer district police that the main characters work for.
    • Conspiracy Theorist : Dudley Carew in "Murder on St. Malley's Day".
    • Media Research Failure : Midsomer is a county, not one village, contrary to what idiot TV announcers and others will tell you.
      • Although Badger's Drift is a very common locale where (judging by rough guess) everyone in the town has died or been a murderer. Including the priest. It's also one of the few non-Midsomer titled locales and is close to many of the others (you see signs pointing to Badger's Drift often). So it does fit the "deadliest village in Britain" tag.
      • In Australia it's "deadliest county" in the ads, which are often edited to highlight the more tart dialogue, thus making them quite amusing.
    • Cowboy Episode: "Blood on the Saddle"
    • Dead Man's Chest: A dismembered body is placed in a wicker hamper and left in a railway station in "Echoes of the Dead".
    • Defective Detective : Averted, unusually for the genre.
    • Defenestrate and Berate : "Ring Out Your Dead"
    • Depraved Bisexual : The murderer in "Not In My Back Yard", who was using seduction to manipulate several people of both sexes.
    • Depraved Homosexual: Some.
    • Drives Like Crazy : It's a wonder Barnaby kept letting Sgt. Troy drive.
    • Dry Crusader: A sect of these appear in "The Night of the Stag".
    • The Eeyore: The Reverand Giles Shawcross in "The Sword of Guillaume".
    • Eureka Moment : Barnaby gets a lot of these from offhand remarks by his wife or daughter.
    • Enfant Terrible: At least two episodes have had children as the murderer (though one just masterminded the whole thing).
    • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: Illicit affairs probably make up half the secrets Barnaby uncovers.
    • Even Evil Has Standards: One murderer takes a small boy who he knows to be the witness to his crime out on a boat ride. Then Barnaby has his Eureka Moment and heads for the dock, expecting the worst... only to find the kid unharmed, with the murderer saying he couldn't kill him.
    • Evil Brit : Pretty much everybody but the recurring characters is a lying, perverted, murdering hypocrite.
    • Fake American
    • A Fete Worse Than Death : In the episode "The Straw Woman"
    • Gaslighting : "Beyond the Grave".
    • Geographic Flexibility : The villages often gain features and places previously unseen or unheard of. The series is filmed in locations all around England and Wales. It shows. But, surprisingly, it mostly averts California Doubling. The use of this trope is to be expected, given how the series is one of the Long Runners of British TV and is set in a small fictional English administrative region with a predominantly rural, old-timey character.
    • Girl-On-Girl Is Hot : Actually averted with Troy, who's a bit of a homophobe and never considers lesbians as arousing.
    • Grievous Bottley Harm : In "Not In My Back Yard", the first Victim of the Week is done in with a broken bottle.
    • Hand of Death
    • Happily Married: Barnaby and his wife Joyce, apparently they are the only happily married couple in Midsomer.
    • Hunting Accident: "Ghosts of Christmas Past"
    • I Ate What?: In "The Night of the Stag", Barnaby drinks half a pint of cider from a barrel that has a dead body floating in it. It causes him to throw up even before the body is discovered.
    • Identical Grandson : Relatives of two characters from The Killings At Badger's Drift appear in Dead Letters, played by the same actors.
    • I'll Take Two Beers, Too!: An early episode had Joyce in a bar with friend who ordered two large whiskies and soda, then asked Joyce if she wanted anything.
    • Implausible Deniability: One guy is caught in bed with a young man. His next words during the interrogation are "I'm not gay".
    • Irish Priest: Father Behan in "A Sacred Trust". Being Catholic, however, does not spare him from the same fate as so many of his Anglican counterparts.
    • Jack the Ripoff: In the episode "Echoes of the Dead", Barnaby recognises the murders as recreations of famous murders of the early 20th century, except for the last one, which he's not able to place. When the murderer is caught, Barnaby asks about it, and the murderer shrugs and says, "I was in a hurry and I couldn't think of anything".
    • Life's Work Ruined : "Orchis Fatalis"
    • Long Runners : Fifteen years and counting.
    • Mistaken for Servant: Troy does this to a local lord in "Market for Murder".
    • The Mistress : As likely as not, a mystery might involve this or adultery.
    • Monochrome Casting : The producer, Brian Tru-May, got fired for telling the Radio Times that they didn't cast non-white actors, or have non-white characters because they wanted to remain "the last bastion of Englishness". Indeed. Apparently "the last bastion of Englishness" involves a murder rate higher than The Wire.
    • Murder by Cremation : "Secrets and Spies"
    • Murder by Mistake: The first victim in "The Glitch".
      • And the first victim in "A Sacred Trust".
    • Murder Is the Best Solution: Many episodes feature people who think this.
    • Murder Simulators : Discussed and played literally in Bantling Boy.
    • Naked Apron : "Destroying Angel". Barnaby arrives to question a middle-aged, male suspect only to find him doing a spot of baking wearing nothing but an apron.
    • Narrowed It Down to the Guy I Recognize: More than once, the most famous of the guest stars turns out to have done it. (On the occasions when they're not the one to whom it was done.)
    • Never Mess with Granny : Especially if she was a secret war hero.
    • Never One Murder : Subverted in "Painted in Blood," when there really was only one murder.
      • "Dead in the Water" is another exception, although there was a second attempted murder.
      • Lampshade Hanging on this in one episode:

    Sgt Scott: "Sir, I just got here, and we already have three bodies."
    DCI Barnaby: "It has been remarked upon before, yes."

    • New Media Are Evil : "Picture of Innocence" The plot revolves around Digital vs Traditional Photography.
    • New Neighbours as the Plot Demands - Many an episode features characters whom Barnaby has known for years, but whom the audience has never seen before and for the most part will never see again.
    • Not in My Back Yard: The title (and main theme) of an episode. Unpopular development plans often end in murder in Midsomer.
    • Not-So-Fake Prop Weapon : In the episode "Death of a Hollow Man".
      • And again in "The Magician's Nephew".
    • Obfuscating Disability
    • Old Cop, Young Cop: Standard formula for a British cop show.
    • Old-Fashioned Copper : Inspector Barnaby and pretty much any other standard police detective in Midsomer county. Goes hand in hand with the very British attitude of Doesn't Like Guns.
    • Overtook the Series : Originally based on four (now seven) books by Caroline Graham.
    • Paid-for Family : One episode has a woman paid by her clients to act as a loving wife.
    • The Password Is Always Swordfish : In "Market for Murder", the password on the Reading Group's secret share market account is 'Gerald'; the name of the late husband of the group's founder (whom she could not go five minutes without mentioning in conversation).
    • Pick a Card : In the episode "Ghosts of Christmas Past", a boy who wants to be a magician when he grows up does an actually-quite-clever version of the trick while being interviewed by Barnaby and Scott about the murder, and his explanation of how he did it (including the fact that he arranged matters to have his own choice of card come up at the end) inspires Barnaby's later Eureka Moment.
    • Pizza Boy Special Delivery : Fiona Conway does this (literally with the pizza boy) in "Not In My Back Yard".
    • Pursued Protagonist: "The Night of the Stag" opens with the first Victim of the Week being chased through an orchard at night.
    • Put on a Bus : Sergeant Troy is promoted and transferred up north. He returns for the episode "Blood Wedding".
      • Similarly, Sergeant Scott goes on a Long Bus Trip - Barnaby mentions that he "called in sick" but the character is never heard from again.
    • Real After All : At least two episodes featuring somebody taking advantage of or inventing a place's haunted reputation have ended with indications that the place really is haunted.
    • Reassigned to Antarctica: Sergeant Scott bemoans his transfer to Midsomer has ended him up in "the Sticks".
    • Retro Universe : Kind of. It's clearly set in the Present Day (mid 1990s-early 2000s), but the atmosphere is very rustic and sort of a George Lucas Throwback to the golden age of English detective fiction in the inter-war period.
    • Self-Referential Humor: At one moment, the brass band from the episode "Things that go bump in the night" plays the series' main theme.
    • Serious Business: Some of the murders have unbelievably ridiculous motives (except for the murderers). One woman ends up killing three people because her driving drunk would bar her from joining the village social club for life.
    • Slut Shaming: " Sacred Trust" involves some romantic liaisons, including one girl shamed for her involvement with a jock.
    • Stalker Shrine: Revealed just before the climax of "A Rare Bird".
    • Stepford Smiler : Chief Superintendent John Cotton, coupled with Beware the Nice Ones. Or vice versa.
    • Stopped Clock: Abused in at least one episode to make a murder look like a suicide.
    • Surprise Incest: This was in an episode where a man had 'spread his seed far and wide' — you could hardly turn a corner without finding one of his bastards. One couple didn't meet until they were both in graduate school in Canada and got married, only later realizing they were half-siblings; she was totally squicked, he didn't mind.
    • Suspiciously Similar Substitute : When John Nettles left the series, DCI Tom Barnaby retired, to be replaced by the younger and more energetic DCI John Barnaby. Apparently he's a cousin, and they did hang a Lampshade on it in the episode where John Barnaby was introduced, but really, it's like they're not even trying.
    • Tag-Along Actor: Cully's actor boyfriend rides along with Barnaby and Jones to research the role of a detective sergeant. It's a comment of his that gives Barnaby the Eureka Moment.
    • Theme Naming : Most of the villages are "Midsomer *blank*".
    • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: One episode has two primary school kids sneaking vodka and cigarettes.
    • Tyrant Takes the Helm : Inspector Martin Spellman in "Picture of Innocence".
    • Unwilling Suspension: Happens to John Barnaby in "Death in the Slow Lane".
    • Vehicular Sabotage: "Death in the Slow Lane"
    • The Vicar: Almost a prerequisite for any whodunit set in an English village, though dog collars appear to be the Midsomer equivalent of a Red Shirt. If you're a clergyman in Midsomer, chances are you'll either be horribly murdered or unmasked as a horrible murderer before the credits roll. Of particular note is the Reverend Stephen Wentworth, played brilliantly by Richard Briers in the episode "Death's Shadow". Another honourable mention should go to Mark Gatiss's Giles Shawcross in "The Sword of Guillaume".
    • The West Country: Where Midsomer district is supposedly located.
    • What a Drag: One victim in "Blood on the Saddle" is killed by being lassoed and dragged along behind a horse.
    • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe: In one episode with a medieval fair/tourney.
    • You Do Not Have to Say Anything
    • You Look Familiar : The actor who plays John Barnaby first appeared on the series a decade earlier as a murder suspect.
      • John Nettles himself, who starred in another detective show, Bergerac, set in Jersey.
    • Zettai Ryouiki: Charlotte Cameron in "Death in the Slow Lane".