'Moonlighting' - the TV Series Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

'Moonlighting' - the TV Series

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The 'Moonlighting' characters on a TV set

Moonlighting was a wacky private detective series and comedy classic which ran from 1985 - 1989. It starred Bruce Willis as David 'Dave' Addison and Cybill Shepherd as Madeleine 'Maddie' Hayes, a couple who had a love/hate relationship. It also starred Curtis Armstrong as Bert Viola and Allyce Beasley as 'Miss' Agnes Dipesto, who often had episodes of their own, or subplots that reflected the circumstances of the main stars. The show used Al Jarreau's 'Moonlighting' as its theme song, the words of which are particularly poignant.

The show was created around Cybill Shepherd, a fairly big movie star in the 1970s. Bruce Willis was then an unknown actor, but by the end of the show it was Willis who ended up with a career in movies. Cybill had a string of flops until her own sitcom (the eponymously-titled Cybill) came along, six years after Moonlighting finished. Bruce is now famous as an action hero, but his first few films (such as Blind Date) tended to focus on his comedy rather than heroic potential.

Moonlighting was famous for addressing the audience directly and acknowledging that everyone on-screen accepts that they're acting in a TV show. During arguments, Dave would often turn to the camera and try to involve the viewers by asking their opinion. More often than not, he mentioned the script, stunt doubles, writers and TV schedules. For example, after Maddie had crawled through the false ceiling to read some papers in Dave's locked office, he said to her: 'You didn't think the writers would let you break into my office and me not catch you, did you?'

Blue Moon Investigations

Or 'How It All Began'

Maddie Hayes, a beautiful, busty, classy blonde, got 'ripped off' by her agent when she worked as a model. Penniless, the only possessions she had in the world were her beautiful house and a detective agency, Blue Moon Investigations, which she'd bought as a tax write-off. She walked into the agency to find loads of staff idling about, passing the time until 5pm when they could all go home. David Addison (Dave), the boss, was playing cards with some of the staff in his office. He assumed she was a client and started flirting with her - until he found out who she was and why she was there.

Maddie had decided to sell the detective agency because she needed the money, but Dave argued that they could run it as a proper business, and she didn't have a job anyway. After much persuasion, Maddie agreed to give it a go, and she set up her own private office opposite Dave's. Both offices had doors which slammed very loudly. This became a regular part of the series as the two main characters constantly argued and ended up slamming each other's (and even their own) office door after storming out. They usually talked over each other, both of them raising their voices to try to get their point across.

Usually the staff in the middle were passive, but showed concern upon hearing the slamming doors. One go-between who would try to keep the peace, or get them to make up, was the loyal (if dippy) secretary Agnes Dipesto (Allyce Beasley played this role to perfection). She always answered the phone with a rhyme, eg:

Blue Moon Detective Agency -
Your clerk's been embezzling, your favourite cat's left?
Hubby's been dating some blonde or brunette?
Mysteriously left out of granny's estate?
Laid down a bad bet, stood up by a date?
Your tiara's missing, no-one to trust?
Come to Blue Moon, we promise a bust!

... and she almost always had a smile on her face - unless Bert Viola was allowed to go and investigate a case before she was, or she was suffering from 'stubble burn'.


The detectives got to solve a case almost every episode, usually involving a chase, Maddie's clothing becoming loose and/or sticky or wet. However, the Anselmo case was never solved1.

In the episode 'The Lady in the Iron Mask' we got to see David dressed up as a woman. Yes, he was investigating a case and yes, he did make a passable female. The poor man standing behind him in a lift who commented, 'What a caboose!' got punched. When David found Maddie, who had also dressed up in the same outfit, he told her that she looked almost as good as he did.

One episode was inspired by the classic Frank Capra film It's a Wonderful Life. Maddie wished she had never been born, and she was visited by an angel who showed her what life would have been like if there had been no Maddie. (This storyline was also used by the writers of Dallas when JR Ewing wished the same thing.)

The episode 'The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice' was introduced by the late, great Orson Welles. He died not long after filming, and the episode was dedicated to his memory.

There were spoof episodes, like the send-up of William Shakespeare's   The Taming of the Shrew, and a Claymation one. Out-takes were another feature, with sometimes a whole season's worth at the end of one episode. One example was Dave being covered in feathers after a chase, and he looked up and said: 'Strange weather we're having', causing the whole cast and film crew to audibly crack up laughing.


Security Officer:  I'm sorry, but you're not on the guest list.
David Addison:   That's because we're not guests. We're looking for a man with a mole on his nose.
Security Officer:   A mole on his nose?
Maddie Hayes:   A mole on his nose.
Security Officer:   [to Maddie] What kind of clothes?
Maddie Hayes:   [to David] What kind of clothes?
David Addison:   What kind of clothes do you suppose?
Security Officer:   What kind of clothes do I suppose would be worn by a man with a mole on his nose? Who knows?
David Addison:   Did I happen to mention, did I bother to disclose, that this man that we're seeking - with the mole on his nose - I'm not sure of his clothes or anything else, except he's Chinese, a big clue by itself.
Maddie Hayes:   How do you do that?
David Addison:   Gotta read a lot of Dr Seuss.
Security Officer:   I'm sorry to say, I'm sad to report, I haven't seen anyone at all of that sort. Not a man who's Chinese with a mole on his nose with some kind of clothes that you can't suppose. So get away from this door and get out of this place, or I'll have to hurt you - put my foot in your face.

This episode ended in a food fight.

Singles vs Couples

Dave used to be married. This was a revelation to Maddie, as nobody knew this fact about him until he received the news that his ex-brother-in-law had died, and he disappeared to attend the funeral. Maddie followed him, seemingly to offer him moral support, but really she just wanted to check out Dave's ex-wife.

Dave was the kind of bachelor who was never short of a date, and he saw nothing wrong with a promiscuous lifestyle (so long as it was just the men doing it). He was an old-fashioned guy who liked to drink with the lads, and women - particularly 'good-time' women - were all he was interested in. Until he fell in love with Maddie. He didn't know he had fallen in love with her, until she told him she was going out 'to find a man'. That man turned out to be her old flame Sam (played by Mark Harmon). Good-looking Sam was an astronaut and 'between jobs'. While Sam and Maddie's relationship appeared to be developing nicely, Dave tried everything he could to disrupt it, much to Maddie's annoyance.

Unfortunately for him, Sam overplayed his hand: he asked Maddie to marry him and she turned him down. Sam left, Maddie was distraught. She had yet another fight with Dave and slapped him hard across his face, twice. Still getting no reaction from him, she attempted another slap, but Dave caught her hand, pulled her towards him and kissed her. They rolled around the floor of her living room, Dave moving the furniture out of the way while still kissing Maddie, and with 'Be My Baby' by the Ronettes playing in the background, they ended up in Maddie's bed.

Can't Live With, Can't Live Without

The new sexual relationship between the two main characters was not exactly made in heaven. While Dave was revelling in it, Maddie was agonising and constantly analysing. He offered to move some of his things into her house, but she asked him to leave. He wanted them to drive to work together, she insisted they take separate cars and arrive at work at different times so the staff didn't find out. This annoyed Dave, who suspected that Maddie was ashamed of their relationship. She assumed it was built on sex, tried to end it but found she couldn't help herself, and they ended up having sex again. This rollercoaster of heightened passions began to wear Maddie down. She started complaining, hoping Dave would take the hint and leave her alone, then she wouldn't have to resist him. She told him that he 'kissed too hard'.

The Dave Effect

Rather than feeling insulted, Dave called all the secretaries into his office (except Agnes, who was, by now, dating Bert), lined them up and told them that he was conducting a survey on kissing. He approached the first girl and kissed her passionately. Afterwards, he held her slightly away and asked her how it was. She still had her eyes closed, and when he let go of her she dropped backwards like she was comatose. Before Dave could kiss anyone else, Maddie walked into his office and Dave dismissed the other girls. They filed out, and the one who had passed out headed towards the door, still looking at Dave dreamily as she walked clumsily into the doorframe.

A Daveism

Pro Bono - that's Latin for lawyers with holes in their underwear.

Time Apart

Maddie finally cracked and she made a snap decision to fly out and visit her parents. The show continued, alternating between an office story and an episode with Maddie's parents and the emotional cocoon she tried to build around herself. Dave, hurt that she would leave him with no explanation, moved swiftly back into his old bachelor lifestyle. He had lost his taste for 'one night stands' though, and he grew miserable. He left messages on Maddie's answer machine, knowing she could collect them from wherever she might have been. Eventually she contacted him, saying: 'If you love me, leave me alone'. However, not long after Dave finally stopped calling, Maddie found out that she was pregnant (Cybill Shepherd was actually pregnant with twins at the time).

Of course, with the (in her eyes) almost indecent haste of her move from the relationship with Sam to being Dave's lover, she didn't know who the father was, and the viewing audience was left guessing for a season break. But Dave himself didn't even know about the baby - until Agnes told him the 'secret' accidentally-on-purpose.

David determined to find out as much as he could about pregnancy and parenting, but was thwarted at every attempt. Without a pregnant woman, he couldn't get into the 'pregnant world'. Then a heavily pregnant woman (Terri, played by Brooke Adams) knocked on his office door. She was a single mother-to-be and looking for a Lamaze ante-natal class partner. Dave remarked: 'Strange, I don't remember talking to a genie today'. They teamed up, practiced their breathing together, spent time at her apartment getting things ready for the baby's arrival, and getting more and more attached to each other. Terri found herself falling in love with Dave, and asked him if he thought he could ever feel the same way. Dave realised how easy his relationship was with Terri: they did things together, it was great fun, and they never fought. He told her he felt the same way, and they settled down into a comfortable companionship.

Maddie's Return

In the meantime, Maddie, still at her parents' home, realised she could not block out the outside world forever, and decided to take responsibility for her situation and return to work. She was too far pregnant to fly home so she took the train. On the journey she met a man, Walter Bishop (Dennis Dougan), who was everything Dave wasn't. She had been planning on returning, marrying Dave, and then living happily ever after. Unfortunately, she had a nightmare in which Dave became an attentive husband (played by Pat Boone) and it freaked her out so much that she stopped off in Las Vegas and instead married Walter Bishop.

When Maddie finally returned, Dave was delighted. He asked her out to dinner but she told him she had plans, then confessed she was married. Though shocked, Dave phoned Walter and invited him to Blue Moon to 'meet the family'. He turned up with a rocking chair for Maddie and mistook Bert for David. When Dave finally met Walter, he couldn't help but laugh. Though torn apart by jealousy, he couldn't understand why Maddie would choose Walter, and he decided to throw them a wedding for a laugh.

When Dave informed Terri that they were going to a wedding - and who was getting married - Terri, who knew how he felt about Maddie, said she thought he was nuts. Dave ordered a tuxedo and suit for Walter, many sizes too large. Dave then organised a bachelor party, and Bert's responsibility was to book the stripper. At the start of the bachelor party episode, Bert, in drag, (he made a very passable woman!), walked past Dave and his brother Richard, played by Charles Rocket (1949 - 2005). Dave asked Bert if he got dressed in the dark. Bert explained that the stripper called in sick, and rather than be lynched by his fellow-workers, he decided to do the strip himself. He burst out of the cake and performed an impressive mime and dance to 'The Lady is a Tramp', while managing to remove only his gloves, boa and garter. The other men were completely fooled and gave him a standing ovation.

The next day they awoke, still at their tables, and hideously hung over, headed for the church. There, Bert handed out tickets in the street for the ceremony, with a cash incentive. Maddie turned up in her bridal gown, with Agnes as her bridesmaid. They walked up the aisle and were astonished by the packed church. As Maddie was about to make her vows, Terri went into labour and Dave headed off to the maternity hospital with her. Maddie, who had been glaring at the woman with Dave, took off after them, with Walter following her. They all ended up at the hospital together, with Dave and Maddie fighting and arguing. Walter ended up delivering Terri's baby.

New Partners

Walter and Maddie got their marriage annulled, and Walter started dating Terri. Dave and Maddie's relationship settled down into a loving, caring partnership for the first time ever. Dave was thoughtful and attentive, and Maddie turned one of her bedrooms into a nursery, kitting it out with a cot and baby toys.

One of the most memorable episodes, 'Womb With a View', was a 'special' seen from Maddie's baby's point of view - the 'baby' being Bruce Willis in a large blue babysuit. The 'baby' was shown his parents by a visiting angel called Jerome, and the episode contained flashbacks to the best parts of the show so far, including the interactions (mainly the many rows) between Dave and Maddie. At the episode's close, Jerome tells baby Hayes that there's been a change of plan, that his soul is due to be given to another unborn baby (possibly a new grandchild for Bill Cosby). On the outside, Maddie went into labour and her baby was stillborn.

Nothing was quite the same again. Maddie was grief-stricken and threw herself into work. Dave tried to comfort her but she wouldn't let him near. They became distant and the spark between them disappeared. Maddie's aloofness drove Dave away, and he began a relationship with Maddie's married cousin Annie. By this time Bert and Agnes were already living together, and in the final episode, 'Lunar Eclipse', Dave finished with Annie for the sake of her marriage, and the Blue Moon colleagues attended the wedding of Bert and Agnes. After the Blue Moon set was dismantled, the final scene showed Dave and Maddie driving off in separate directions.


In 1987, Bruce Willis won a Golden Globe award for 'Best Actor in a Television Series (Musical or Comedy)', and an Emmy for 'Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series', both for Moonlighting.

Guest Stars

Over the five years of its run, Moonlighting attracted an impressive list of stars, including:

  • Dennis Dougan (who also directed some episodes)
  • Mark Harmon
  • Whoopie Goldberg, later an Oscar winner for the film Ghost
  • Pierce Brosnan, who, at the time, was the star of another detective series, Remington Steele, and who would go on to play James Bond
  • Robert Webber, as Maddie's father
  • Eva Marie Saint, as Maddie's mother, and who had previously starred in Alfred Hitchcock's North By Northwest
  • Peter Bogdanovich, film director and Cybill Shepherd's ex-partner
  • Ray Charles, the musician
  • Pat Boone, the crooner
  • Orson Welles, legendary filmmaker and actor
  • Linda Thorson, who, in the late 1960s, had played Tara King in the fantasy detective series The Avengers
  • Judd Nelson, 'Brat-pack' star of The Breakfast Club
  • John Goodman
  • Barbara Bain
  • Brooke Adams
  • Charles Rocket, as Dave's brother Richard
  • Cleavant Derricks, later famous as Rembrant Brown in Sliders
  • Colm Meaney, later famous as Chief Miles O'Brien in Star Trek The Next Generation and Deep Space 9
  • Ellen Geer
  • Demi Moore, who was Bruce Willis' real-life wife from 1987-2000
  • Gary Cole, who would star in Midnight Caller
  • The Temptations, the Motown group
  • Jack Blessing, as 'MacGillicuddy', a member of the Blue Moon staff, and Bert's sparring partner. He 'died' in the last episode.
  • Virginia Madsen, as Maddie's cousin Annie (who would later star in the horror film Candyman)

Walter Bishop was listed as a guest star in 'Lunar Eclipse'. This mystery person was called 'Cy' when Dave and Maddie appealed to him to stop the show from being shelved in the final episode. He appeared in silhouette but his voice was unmistakably that of Dennis Dougan, who had played the role of Maddie's husband, Walter Bishop. Dennis Dougan also directed the 'Lunar Eclipse' episode.

Season 1

01.'Moonlighting' (part 1)'
02.'Moonlighting' (part 2)'
03.'Gunfight at the So-So Corral'
04.'Read the Mind... See the Movie'
05.'The Next Murder You Hear'
06.'Next Stop Murder'
07.'The Murder's in the Mail'

Season 2

08.'Brother, Can You Spare a Blonde?'
09.'The Lady in the Iron Mask'
10.'Money Talks... Maddie Walks'
11.'The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice'
12.'My Fair David'
13.'Knowing Her'
14.'Somewhere Under the Rainbow'
15.'Portrait of Maddie'
16.'Atlas Belched'
17.'Twas the Episode Before Christmas'
18.'The Bride of Tupperman'
19.'North By North Dipesto'
20.'In God We Strongly Suspect'
21.'Every Daughter's Father is a Virgin'
22.'Sleep-Talkin' Guy'
24.'Funeral for a Door Nail'

Season 3

26.'The Son Also Rises'
27.'The Man Who Cried Wife'
28.'Symphony in Knocked Flat'
29.'Yours, Very Deadly'
30.'All Creatures Great... and Not So Great'
31.'Big Man on Mulberry Street'
32.'Atomic Shakespeare'
33.'It's a Wonderful Job'
34.'The Straight Poop'
35.'Poltergeist III - Dipesto Nothing'
36.'Blonde on Blonde'
37.'Sam and Dave'
38.'It's Maddie's Turn to Cry'
39.'I Am Curious... Maddie'
40.'To Heiress Human'

Season 4

41.'A Trip to the Moon'
42.'Come Back, Little Shiksa'
43.'Take a Left at the Altar'
44.'A Tale in Two Cities'
45.'Cool Hand Dave' (1)
46.'Cool Hand Dave' (2)
47.'Father Knows Last'
48.'Los Dos Dipestos'
49.'Fetal Attraction'
50.'Tracks of My Tears'
51.'Eek! A Spouse!'
52.'Maddie Hayes Got Married'
53.'Here's Living With You, Kid'
54.'And the Flesh Was Made Word'

Season 5

55.'Womb With a View'
56.'Between a Yuk and a Hard Place'
57.'The Color of Maddie'
58.'Plastic Fantastic Lovers'
59.'Shirts and Skins'
60.'Take My Wife, For Example'
61.'I See England, I See France, I See Maddie's Netherworld'
62.'Those Lips, Those Lies'
64.'When Girls Collide'
65.'In 'N' Outlaws'
66.'Eine Kleine Nacht Murder'
67.'Lunar Eclipse'


Cybill Shepherd is an accomplished jazz singer. Bruce Willis has released singles of his own. 'Under the Boardwalk' and 'Respect Yourself' were both Top Ten hits in the US and Europe, both taken from his album The Return of Bruno. There is a CD of music from the Moonlighting series available from online music sites.

The Legend of Moonlighting

As recently as 1999, the editors of TV Guide and the executives of the Romance Channel selected David Addison and Maddie Hayes as eighth out of The Top Ten Most Romantic Couples In Television History. Many articles have been written about the success of the show, the great on-screen interaction between the two phenomenal lead characters, and their red-hot sexual chemistry.

  • There is currently a campaign for a Moonlighting Reunion
  • 1A fictitious case, invented as an excuse to leave the office early or not turn up for work at all.

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