Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
4 user

Night of the Headless Horseman 

Jessica is in the wrong place at the right time to help her friend Dorian Beecher when he is accused of a murder he didn't commit.


Walter Grauman


Peter S. Fischer (created by), Richard Levinson (created by) | 2 more credits »

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Thom Bray ... Dorian Beecher
Karlene Crockett Karlene Crockett ... Sarah Dupont
Judy Landers ... Bobbie
Hope Lange ... Charlotte Newcastle
Doug McClure ... Sheriff Sam Rankin
Charles Siebert ... Dentist Penn 'Doc' Walker
Guy Stockwell ... Dorn Van Stotter
Fritz Weaver ... Edwin Dupont
Barry Williams ... Nate Findley
Brandon Douglas ... Todd Carrier
Donald Thompson Donald Thompson ... Robert
Adam Ferris Adam Ferris ... Brendan
Sanford Clark ... 1st Man
Gary Pagett Gary Pagett ... Deputy


Only after arrival at Wenton, Vermont does Jessica learn she was asked by an orphaned literary protégé, Dorian Beecher, who succeeded as boys boarding school poetry teacher due to the car accident-drowned of Gretchen, daughter of Dorn Van Stotter, to play Dorian's 'mother' to impress his employer, Wenton Academy's pedigree-obsessed owner, Edwin Dupont, whose daughter, Sarah, he loves, rivaled only by the studly riding instructor, Nate Findley, an obnoxious womanizer. Walking home after an embarrassing fight in a pub with Nate, Dorian is run down by the disguised headless horseman he always assumes to be Nate, on his black stallion, Gunshot. Sheriff Rankin jails Dorian after Nate's decapitated corpse is found nearby, clumsily redressed as the horseman. Jessica sifts two plots for secrets and motives, involving an anonymous school funds embezzlement note, the secret society of mischievous schoolboys Todd Carrier, Robert and Brendan and a past crime. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

4 January 1987 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The title refers to the Headless Horseman, the ghost that rides through Washington Irving's story 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow' and chases the schoolmaster Ichabod Crane. See more »


[first lines]
Dorian Beecher: Her eyes glistened with the promise of a thousand yesterdays she had never known, and then she came to me and unleashed the promised passions of a thousand tomorrows yet to come.
Sarah Dupont: Oh, Dorian. You wrote that for me?
Dorian Beecher: For you alone, Sarah.
See more »

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User Reviews

Deadly poetic justice
5 August 2017 | by TheLittleSongbirdSee all my reviews

Have always been quite fond of 'Murder She Wrote'. It is a fun and relaxing watch that makes you think as you try to unwind in the evening. If one wants more complex, twisty mysteries with lots of tension and suspense 'Murder She Wrote' may not be for you, but if you want something light-hearted and entertaining but still provide good mysteries 'Murder She Wrote' fits the bill just fine.

"Night of the Headless Horseman" is a lesser episode of Season 3 for me, better than "Dead Man's Gold" but it is an episode that was perfectly watchable and just about decent if leaving me a little cold with how the premise was executed. Still feel the same. The characters are stereotypical somewhat (the somewhat promiscuous waitress that has her heart in the right place, a universally hated womanising town bully and a truly dim-witted sheriff).

Story-wise, it's fun but apart from the reveal and how the murder was done it's predictable stuff and the whole headless horseman stuff is under-explored and not dark or atmospheric enough. It is very obvious who the victim will be, having victim written practically on his forehead (very often on 'Murder She Wrote' it is a character loathed by all who deserves to be done in), it can be very formulaic and despite him being a liar the accused innocence is never in doubt, even looking at them you would never think they are capable of such a brutal crime. Thom Bray's Dorian is a little bland, though never Grady, Donna or Howard bland. The sheriff is also so stupid that one wants to beat him around the head and questions how he ever got the job.

On the other hand, the production values are high in quality as to be expected, with slick photography and a beautiful rustic and nostalgia-filled location. The music has energy and has presence but also not making the mistake of over-scoring, while it is hard to forget or resist the theme tune.

The script is thoughtful and suitably amiable and the story is fun despite its predictability and well-paced, some of the campiness is endearing. Other than Nate and the sheriff, the characters do have a lot of likability even with their stereotypical nature Angela Lansbury is great as always and the guest star acting is near-across the board good. Barry Williams in particular enjoys himself in a juicy role.

In conclusion, decent and perfectly watchable but doesn't do as much for me with a premise that isn't fully lived up to. 6/10 Bethany Cox

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