Murder, She Wrote is a television mystery series starring Angela Lansbury as mystery writer and amateur detective Jessica Fletcher. The series aired for 12 seasons from 1984 to 1996. It was followed by four TV films, aired from 1997 to 2003, and a spin-off series, The Law & Harry McGraw.
Debuting September 30, 1984, Murder, She Wrote, TV's longest-running mystery series, might never have come about had producers Richard Levinson and William Link enjoyed success with their TV series Ellery Queen. The series folded after a single season, but Levinson and Link were still committed to the concept of a bestselling murder mystery novelist who solved real murders when not at the typewriter. By changing the gender of their protagonist from male to female and transforming the character from a good looking absentminded young pedant to a middle aged down to earth widow the producers were able to parlay their 'mystery writer/amateur detective' premise into a 12 year hit for CBS.
The show revolved around the day to day life of a retired English teacher who after being widowed in her early fifties becomes a very successful mystery writer. Despite fame and fortune, Jessica remains a resident of Cabot Cove, a cozy coastal town in Maine, and maintains her links with all of her old friends, never letting her success go to her head. Exterior shots of Cabot Cove were filmed in Mendocino, California.
Her one eccentricity is an insatiable curiosity, especially whenever murder rears its ugly head - which it does with great regularity. The mystery term "Cabot Cove Syndrome" was eventually coined to describe the constant appearance of dead bodies in remote locations.
In most episodes, Jessica somehow becomes entangled in a murder investigation. The police are almost always willing to arrest the most likely suspect, but Jessica invariably feels that the so-called guilty party was innocent. Carefully and methodically piecing the clues together and asking astute questions, she always manages to trap the real murderer - who, given the series' "special guest star" policy, was often played by a famous film or TV personality.