The F.B.I. (TV series)

Last updated

The F.B.I.
The F.B.I. (TV series).jpg
Genre Police procedural
Starring Efrem Zimbalist Jr.
Philip Abbott
William Reynolds
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons9
No. of episodes241 (list of episodes)
Executive producers Quinn Martin
Philip Saltzman [1]
Running time60 minutes
Production companies QM Productions
Warner Bros. Television
(1965–1967; 1970–1974)
Warner Bros.- Seven Arts Television
Original release
Network ABC
ReleaseSeptember 19, 1965 (1965-09-19) 
April 28, 1974 (1974-04-28)
Today's F.B.I. (1981–1982)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr The FBI 1965.JPG
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 (Tareyton and Pall Mall brands) 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. For the entirety of its run, it was broadcast on Sunday nights.



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 never appeared 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. 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. [2] 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. [3] 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. [4] J. Edgar Hoover attempted to cancel the show on at least seven other occasions. [5] Upon Tolson's direction, the violence in the show was severely curtailed in the final three seasons. [6]


Guest Stars


SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
1 32September 19, 1965 (1965-09-19)May 8, 1966 (1966-05-08)
2 29September 18, 1966 (1966-09-18)April 16, 1967 (1967-04-16)
3 27September 17, 1967 (1967-09-17)April 28, 1968 (1968-04-28)
4 26September 22, 1968 (1968-09-22)March 30, 1969 (1969-03-30)
5 26September 14, 1969 (1969-09-14)March 8, 1970 (1970-03-08)
6 26September 20, 1970 (1970-09-20)March 21, 1971 (1971-03-21)
7 26September 12, 1971 (1971-09-12)March 19, 1972 (1972-03-19)
8 26September 17, 1972 (1972-09-17)April 1, 1973 (1973-04-01)
9 23September 16, 1973 (1973-09-16)April 28, 1974 (1974-04-28)

Nielsen ratings

Home media

A 1969 "Ten Most Wanted List" segment; these were seen at the close of some episodes. Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. Most Wanted List The FBI.JPG
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 [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] [12] The ninth and final season was released on September 23, 2014. [13]

DVD NameEp #Release Date
The First Season, Part 116May 24, 2011
The First Season, Part 216August 2, 2011
The Second Season, Part 116February 14, 2012
The Second Season, Part 213February 14, 2012
The Third Season, Part 116September 11, 2012
The Third Season, Part 211September 11, 2012
The Fourth Season, Part 113February 26, 2013
The Fourth Season, Part 213February 26, 2013
The Fifth Season, Part 113June 4, 2013
The Fifth Season, Part 213June 4, 2013
The Sixth Season26October 15, 2013
The Seventh Season26February 25, 2014
The Eighth Season26June 10, 2014
The Ninth Season23September 23, 2014

In December 2023, Warner Bros. Discovery, via Warner Bros, Television Studios (current rights owner of the series) launched a free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) channel dedicated to the series and made all nine seasons of the series available for streaming online on Tubi. [14] [15]

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  1. "Philip Saltzman, Producer of 'Barnaby Jones'". Los Angeles Times. August 21, 2009. Retrieved August 23, 2009.
  2. Curt Gentry, J. Edgar Hoover: The Man and the Secrets (NY: W.W. Norton & Company, 1991), 581.
  3. Gentry, 581.
  4. Gentry, 581.
  5. Gentry, 582.
  6. Gentry, 582.
  7. "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.
  8. "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.
  9. "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.
  10. "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.
  11. The F.B.I. - Package Art Pics for Warner Archives DVDs of 'The 4th Season' Archived March 1, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  12. The F.B.I. – 'The 5th Season' is Now Available from the Warner Archive Archived June 19, 2013, at the Wayback Machine
  13. The 9th and Final Season is Now Available on DVD! Archived September 24, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  14. "Watch The FBI". Tubi. Retrieved April 5, 2024.
  15. "Warner Bros. Discovery Brings 37 FAST Channels to Amazon's Freevee". Stream TV Insider. December 5, 2023. Retrieved April 5, 2024.