Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
5 user 1 critic

Tough Guys Don't Die 

A private detective, hired by Jessica to research an old case, is suddenly murdered.


Seymour Robbie


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
Barbara Babcock ... Priscilla Daniels
John Furey ... Larry King
Nancy Lee Grahn ... Erin Carey (as Nancy Grahn)
John McMartin ... Gavin Daniels
Jerry Orbach ... Harry McGraw
Gerald S. O'Loughlin ... Ray Kravitz
Alex Rocco ... Ernie Santini
Fritz Weaver ... Judge Lambert
Paul Winfield ... Det. Lt. Starkey
Floyd Levine ... Archie Miles
Margery Nelson Margery Nelson ... Alma Leonard
Rosanna Huffman Rosanna Huffman ... Connie Miles
Conrad Bachmann ... Office Manager
Tina Lifford ... Leora Cargill


While highly respected P.I. Archie Miles, who even teaches at the police academy, is working on the old Danbury scalpel murder case, involving judge Lambert, for Jessica's research, he is shot in his office. His rather shady, clumsier partner Harry McGraw contacts Jessica as Archie was working on only two other cases, about allegedly adulterous contractor Ernie Santini and editor Priscilla Daniels of Femininity Magazine, who suddenly backs down on her political ambitions. Detective Lieutenant Starkey confides into Jessica the police wouldn't mourn Harry getting rid of Archie's killer, anyhow, she snoops herself, then teams up with Harry... Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

boston massachusetts | See All (1) »


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

24 February 1985 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


Archie Miles' name is a play on the name of Miles Archer, Sam Spade's partner in the "Maltese Falcon". See more »


References The Maltese Falcon (1941) See more »

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User Reviews

Introducing Harry McGraw
12 July 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.

Notable for introducing the character of Harry McGraw, who would become a re-occurring character and one of the best, "Tough Guys Don't Die" is not one of the season's very best episodes (not as good as the previous episode which was one of my favourites of the show, but better than the two episodes before that one). It's still quite a lot of fun, even if darker than most of the Harry McGraw 'Murder She Wrote'.

It's at times a little limp in the script and there was suspicion as to who the murderer was three quarters of the way through (the motive however was less guessable and how Jessica came to the solution was clever). The very ending is a little on the corny side, like it tended to be on 'Murder She Wrote'.

"Tough Guys Don't Die" still looks good in the production values, nicely shot with a suitable location (though it's no The Mediterranean). The music has presence but also not making the mistake of over-scoring, while it is hard to forget or resist the theme tune.

Despite some limp moments, the script is often charming and amiable if somewhat less light-hearted than before. The story is clever and compelling, with a refreshing noir-ish feel that was unusual for 'Murder She Wrote' but suited a story that was quite dark in the first place. What makes the episode is the chemistry between Jessica and Harry, which is a sheer delight. The same can be said about the performances.

Angela Lansbury is terrific in one of her best remembered roles one of the roles that is most closely associated with me at any rate), and after adoring his Lennie Briscoe and Lumiere for many years Orbach doesn't disappoint. The supporting cast are more than reliable.

Overall, a good introduction to Harry McGraw and a fun episode in general. 8/10 Bethany Cox

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