The F.B.I. (TV series)

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The F.B.I.
The F.B.I. (TV series).jpg
GenrePolice procedural
StarringEfrem Zimbalist, Jr.
Philip Abbott
William Reynolds
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons9
No. of episodes241 (list of episodes)
Executive producersQuinn Martin
Philip Saltzman[1]
Running time60 minutes
Production companiesQM Productions
Warner Bros. Television
(1965–1967; 1970–1974)
Warner Bros.- Seven Arts Television
DistributorWarner Bros. Television Distribution
Original networkABC
Original releaseSeptember 19, 1965 (1965-09-19) –
April 28, 1974 (1974-04-28)
Related showsToday's F.B.I. (1981–1982)
From left: Stephen Brooks, Lynn Loring and Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., 1965.

The F.B.I. is an American police television series created by Quinn Martin and Philip Saltzman for ABC and co-produced with Warner Bros. Television, with sponsorship from the Ford Motor Company, Alcoa and American Tobacco Company in the first season. Ford sponsored the show alone for subsequent seasons. The series was broadcast on ABC from 1965 until its end in 1974. Starring Efrem Zimbalist, Jr., Philip Abbott and William Reynolds, the series, consisting of nine seasons and 241 episodes, chronicles a group of FBI agents trying to defend the US Government from unidentified threats.


Produced by Quinn Martin and based in part on concepts from the 1959 Warner Bros. theatrical film The FBI Story, the series was based on actual FBI cases, with fictitious main characters carrying the stories. Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. played Inspector Lewis Erskine, a widower whose wife had been killed in an ambush meant for him. Philip Abbott played Arthur Ward, assistant director to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. Although Hoover served as series consultant until his death in 1972, he was never seen in the series.

Stephen Brooks played Inspector Erskine's assistant, Special Agent Jim Rhodes, for the first two seasons. Lynn Loring played Inspector Erskine's daughter and Rhodes' love interest, Barbara, in the twelve episodes of the show's first season.[2] Although the couple was soon engaged on the show, that romantic angle was soon dropped.

In 1967, Brooks was replaced by William Reynolds, who played Special Agent Tom Colby until 1973. The series would enjoy its highest ratings during this time, peaking at No. 10 in the 1970–1971 season. For the final season, Shelly Novack played Special Agent Chris Daniels.

Some episodes ended with a "most wanted" segment hosted by Zimbalist, noting the FBI's most wanted criminals of the day, decades before the Fox Network aired America's Most Wanted. The most famous instance was in the April 21, 1968, episode, when Zimbalist asked for information about fugitive James Earl Ray, who was being hunted for the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.

The series aired on ABC at 8 p.m. Sunday from 1965 to 1973, when it was moved up to 7:30 p.m. for the final season. The series was a co-production of Quinn Martin Productions and Warner Bros. Television, as Warner Bros. held the television and theatrical rights to any project based on The FBI Story. It was the longest-running of all of Quinn Martin's television series, airing nine seasons.[citation needed]


Every detail of every episode of the series was carefully vetted by F.B.I. second-in-command Clyde Tolson.[3] Actors playing F.B.I. agents, and other participants, were given background checks to guarantee that no "criminals, subversives, or Communists" were associated with the show.[4] The premiere episode of the first season, "The Monster," about a handsome serial killer who strangled women with their own hair, so shocked Tolson that he recommended the show be cancelled.[5] J. Edgar Hoover attempted to cancel the show on at least seven other occasions.[6] Upon Tolson's direction, the violence in the show was severely curtailed in the final three seasons.[7]


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
132September 19, 1965 (1965-09-19)May 8, 1966 (1966-05-08)
229September 18, 1966 (1966-09-18)April 16, 1967 (1967-04-16)
327September 17, 1967 (1967-09-17)April 28, 1968 (1968-04-28)
426September 22, 1968 (1968-09-22)March 30, 1969 (1969-03-30)
526September 14, 1969 (1969-09-14)March 8, 1970 (1970-03-08)
626September 20, 1970 (1970-09-20)March 21, 1971 (1971-03-21)
726September 12, 1971 (1971-09-12)March 19, 1972 (1972-03-19)
826September 17, 1972 (1972-09-17)April 1, 1973 (1973-04-01)
923September 16, 1973 (1973-09-16)April 28, 1974 (1974-04-28)

Nielsen ratings[edit]

  • Season 1: Not in Top 30
  • Season 2: #29, 20.2
  • Season 3: #22, 21.2
  • Season 4: #18, 21.7
  • Season 5: #24, 20.6
  • Season 6: #10, 23.0
  • Season 7: #17, 22.4
  • Season 8: #29, 19.2
  • Season 9: Not in Top 30

Home media[edit]

A 1969 "Ten Most Wanted List" segment; these were seen at the close of some episodes.

Warner Bros. (under the Warner Home Video label) has released all nine seasons of The F.B.I. on DVD in region 1 via their Warner Archive Collection. These are Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) releases and are available through Warner's online store and[8][9][10][11][12][13] The ninth and final season was released on September 23, 2014.[14]

DVD Name Ep # Release Date
The First Season, Part 1 16 May 24, 2011
The First Season, Part 2 16 August 2, 2011
The Second Season, Part 1 16 February 14, 2012
The Second Season, Part 2 13 February 14, 2012
The Third Season, Part 1 16 September 11, 2012
The Third Season, Part 2 11 September 11, 2012
The Fourth Season, Part 1 13 February 26, 2013
The Fourth Season, Part 2 13 February 26, 2013
The Fifth Season, Part 1 13 June 4, 2013
The Fifth Season, Part 2 13 June 4, 2013
The Sixth Season 26 October 15, 2013
The Seventh Season 26 February 25, 2014
The Eighth Season 26 June 10, 2014
The Ninth Season 23 September 23, 2014

Similar series[edit]

  • An updated and revamped version of the series, Today's FBI, executive produced by David Gerber for Columbia Pictures Television, aired on ABC from October 1981 through April 1982 in the same Sunday 8 p.m. time slot as its predecessor.
  • A remake of the original series, produced by Ron Howard's Imagine Entertainment for Fox, was set for air in Fall 2008, but it didn't materialise.
  • In September 2018, a similar series, titled FBI, debuted on CBS; this series was co-created by Dick Wolf and Craig Turk for Universal Television. Unlike The F.B.I. and Today's FBI, however, the cases presented are largely fictional.

Popular culture[edit]

  • The Lupin the Third Part II episode Diamonds Shining in the Robot's Eye parodies The F.B.I..
  • The series was featured in Quentin Tarantino's ninth film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, wherein Rick Dalton, the film's main character, portrayed the villain in an altered version of "All the Streets Are Silent" (air date November 28, 1965), the eleventh episode of the first season of The F.B.I. Rick Dalton replaced the character played by Burt Reynolds in the original episode.


  1. ^ "Philip Saltzman, Producer of 'Barnaby Jones'". Los Angeles Times. August 21, 2009. Retrieved August 23, 2009.
  2. ^ IMDB, 'Lynn Loring,'
  3. ^ Curt Gentry, J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets (NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1991), 581.
  4. ^ Gentry, 581.
  5. ^ Gentry, 581.
  6. ^ Gentry, 582.
  7. ^ Gentry, 582.
  8. ^ "The F.B.I. - DVDs for 'The 1st Season, Part 1' Announced: Date, Package, Cost and More!". Archived from the original on January 14, 2012.
  9. ^ "The F.B.I. - Warner Archive Completes the Rookie Year with Today's 'The 1st Season, Part 2' on DVD". Archived from the original on September 14, 2011.
  10. ^ "The F.B.I. - Box Art, Contents and More for Today's Archive Sets of 'The 2nd Season, Part 1' and 'Part 2'". Archived from the original on June 14, 2012.
  11. ^ "The F.B.I. - 'The 3rd Season, Part 1' and 'Part 2' are BOTH Now on DVD!". Archived from the original on September 13, 2012.
  12. ^ The F.B.I. - Package Art Pics for Warner Archives DVDs of 'The 4th Season' Archived March 1, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ The F.B.I. – 'The 5th Season' is Now Available from the Warner Archive Archived June 19, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ The 9th and Final Season is Now Available on DVD! Archived September 24, 2014, at the Wayback Machine

External links[edit]