Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
2 user

Thicker Than Water 

Sheriff Metzger assumes his younger brother, the black sheep of the family, is guilty as charged, of murder.


Anthony Pullen Shaw (as Anthony Shaw)


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

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Episode cast overview:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Bruce Abbott ... Wayne Metzger / Stearns
Luke Askew ... Terry Montagne
Pat Hingle ... Zach Franklin
Ted Markland ... Capt. Ned Keller
Ron Masak ... Sheriff Mort Metzger
Marjorie Monaghan ... Elaine Franklin
William Windom ... Dr. Seth Hazlitt
Louis Herthum ... Deputy Andy Broom
Kenny Davis ... Fishman
Carol Gustafson Carol Gustafson ... Waitress


Jessica realizes her New York fan on the plane home, Wayne 'Stearns', is actually sheriff Mort Metzger's young-orphaned, unruly kid brother. (She agrees to keep his identity a secret). Mort reluctantly decides to give the guy a chance and gets him a job in Cabot Cove as fisherman Zach Franklin's tireless deck-hand. Wayne saves him from an attack by a resentful Captain Ned Keller, but because of his prison tattoo, Wayne is nonetheless forbidden to court Zach's daughter Elaine. When Zach disappears, Mort finds a bloody knife and suspects Wayne on account of his rotten New York past. Then Zach's silent majority partner Terry Montagne is found murdered. Jessica helps Mort investigate the boat case objectively. Written by KGF Vissers (ed. by gvpalazz)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

6 October 1991 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


While Mort's wife Adele is never actually seen in the series, she can be heard in this episode telling him to come to bed. See more »


The film begins with Jessica Fletcher and Wayne Metzger/Stearns traveling by air from New York to Cabot Cove. A Boeing 737 is shown flying, but this is one of Boeing's prototypes from the 1960's, in Boeing livery, rather than an airline plane. The next scene shows the aircraft interior, but this clearly is a much smaller aircraft than a 737, and in a VIP configuration. See more »

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User Reviews

Brother vs. Brother, Fisherman vs. Fisherman, and Other Altercations
8 January 2010 | by WeatherVioletSee all my reviews

Well, for those of us attempting to keep track of the number of "MSW" episodes featuring a widowed father possessive of his only daughter, and teenage boys who must become "the man of the house" to support their widowed mother, the number of feuding families, the number of diner restaurants in Cabot Cove, the number of Adele Metzger sightings, the names of Louis Herthum's characters, the number of missing bodies, and an overall body count, then we're in for quite a challenge this time around.

On a flight of a small airplane from New York City to Portland, Maine, a young adult male passenger approaches Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury) from across the aisle to request her autograph upon a page in one of her books, which he carries, under her "Dedicated to Sheriff Mort Metzger" tribute.

Jessica and "Wayne Stern" (Bruce Abbott) exchange pleasantries although he remains guarded and evasive about answering her questions about his purpose for traveling to Cabot Cove other than his expressing a decision to forge a new life.

Wayne had been incarcerated for a felony conviction back in New York City and has now served his time, so Cabot Cove might prove as ideal a community as any to begin with a fresh start, to which Jessica heartedly agrees and wishes him the best.

In Cabot Cove, fisherman Zach Franklin (Pat Hingle) faces several problems of his own. He and his business partner, Terry Montagne (Luke Askew), retain a mortgage on the fishing boat which they've purchased from Captain Ned Keller (Ted Markland) and can't seem to meet payments. Terry also conducts a feud with Zach's daughter over ownership of the vessel.

Elaine Franklin (Marjorie Monaghan) dedicates her all to assisting her widowed father, Zach, as his fishing partner, while he controls her life because nobody's good enough for his daughter. Elaine isn't afforded a beautiful wardrobe, as she spends most of her time aboard the small craft, but she adds nice touches to her appearance with a French braid and the natural makeup look, and has a pleasant tenor tone to her voice, as though she has really spent a great deal of time sailing the bay around Cabot Cove.

Upon her return from the Portland airport, Jessica arrives in Cabot Cove to check in at the sheriff's station, at which she discovers Sheriff Mort Metzger (Ron Masak) initiating an altercation with the newly-arriving Wayne "Stern." After Mort orders Wayne to leave town, Mort accompanies Jessica outdoors, she pondering his uncharacteristic short fuse before a visitor, and asks Mort if Wayne might, in reality, be his brother.

Mort is marveled that Jessica has figured this out in short order, and he explains his history with baby brother Wayne Metzger. Mort and Wayne's father passed when Mort was a teenager, and Mort had to take on odd jobs to support the family, which led him to a career in law enforcement, while Wayne fell in with the wrong crowd, which led to criminal charges after Wayne's company held up a storekeeper during an incident which cost Mort's police partner his life.

Jessica believes Wayne's determination to prove his valor and honor toward his brother, and so Mort decides to give Wayne one last chance provided that he doesn't cause another murder spree, by introducing Wayne to Zach and Elaine Franklin, causing Zach to dislike him immediately for eyeing his cherished daughter, but taking Wayne on as a boat hand after Elaine says her feelings toward him are professional.

Wayne witnesses an altercation between Zach and Terry Montagne aboard the vessel in dock and soon discovers a blood-stained carving knife amid a twine of rope, causing Mort to believe that Wayne has done it again even though the body hasn't been discovered.

After consulting with Doctor Seth Hazlitt (William Windom), Jessica convinces Mort to question other suspects, and together they ride around Cabot Cove, before they discover the body of a second victim. Mort is furious with himself for trusting Wayne and giving him an extra chance to prove himself, and so he has his Deputy (Louis Herthum) to lock up his brother.

That evening, while Mort reminisces over a photograph album in his living room, Adele Metzger (uncredited actress) projects the time of day from upstairs, asking if Mort plans to stay awake for very long, to which he answers that this won't take much longer. (This marks the closest point during the series for the audience to witness the existence of Adele Metzger, who is often discussed as long-winded and capable of handling herself, as an ex-Marine.)

But with Elaine's encouragement, Jessica considers the possibility that Wayne might not have committed either murder, so Mort releases him, while the investigators scrutinize the boat for hidden secrets, which leads to yet another dangerous altercation on deck, causing a heroic gesture by one brother to risk his life to try to save the other, for all of that bleeding is "Thicker Than Water."

The cast is rounded out by Kenny Davis as Fishman and Carol Gustafson as Waitress, in one of Cabot Cove's many, many diners. (Background music seems to increase in volume this season, thus distracting from the dialogue and message, and it's particularly noticeable this time around.)

This episode marks Louis Herthum's third "MSW" appearance, and his first in a five-season, 23-episode, run as Cabot Cove Deputy although he has yet to be named "Andy Broom," which comes along later in the season, after his next appearance with yet a different character name.

This also represents the second of two "MSW" appearances by Luke Askew, the first of three for Bruce Abbott, and the third of three "MSW" guest roles for Kenny Davis, and also for Pat Hingle, who has since passed, after acting in film and on television since 1954.

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