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The Thorn Birds: The Missing Years (1996)

Actually taking place in the middle of the original Thorn Birds miniseries, which chronicled the love affair of Meggie Cleary and Fr. Ralph de Bricassart from 1920 to 1962, this two-part ... See full summary »


Kevin James Dobson


Colleen McCullough (novel), David Stevens

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Credited cast:
Richard Chamberlain ... Ralph de Bricassart
Amanda Donohoe ... Meggie Cleary O'Neill
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Paul Bertram Paul Bertram ... Harry Gough
Julia Blake ... Fee Cleary
Olivia Burnette ... Justine O'Neill
Michael Caton ... Bill Masters
James Costas ... Italian officer (as Jimmy Costas)
Rob Doran Rob Doran ... Blackshirt #2
Zach English Zach English ... Dane O'Neill
Peter Ford Peter Ford ... The Warder
Christopher Gabardi Christopher Gabardi ... Father Angelo
Adam Grossetti Adam Grossetti ... Tony Masters
Jonathan Hardy ... Father Emilio
John Heywood John Heywood ... Doctor
Phillip Hinton Phillip Hinton ... Levi


Actually taking place in the middle of the original Thorn Birds miniseries, which chronicled the love affair of Meggie Cleary and Fr. Ralph de Bricassart from 1920 to 1962, this two-part miniseries begins in 1943. Father Ralph returns to Drogheda to evaluate its financial situation just as his one true love, Meggie, is embroiled in a bitter custody battle with her ex-husband, Luke. Written by Phil Fernando

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

sequel | based on novel | See All (2) »


A love reignited. A faith renewed.


Drama | Romance




Australia | USA



Release Date:

11 February 1996 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Die Dornenvögel - Die verlorenen Jahre See more »

Filming Locations:

Queensland, Australia

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The Missing Years is regarded as a 'midquel' as the events of the story covers 19 unaccounted years between Dane's birth and Ralph's return to Australia in the original 1983 miniseries. See more »


Fee: You really think Meggie doesn't love you? She doesn't want Luke, she wants a father for the children. All you would have to do is say one word and she would be with you in a heartbeat
See more »


Follows The Thorn Birds (1983) See more »

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User Reviews

Highly under-rated by die-hards of the first mini-series
11 March 1999 | by AnniePSee all my reviews

I liked it. Better and better. At first I found the lady cold and not at all like the Meggie I had grown used to from watching the series over and over, but she was farther along in her story now - she'd borne Ralph's child and raised him to the age of thirteen. The world was at war. She was lonely and becoming a pragmatist. She didn't expect to see him again. (We didn't either.) THAT is the gift here - more time with the lovers.

Before commenting on the consistently good performances, which were (for the most part) written and played true to the characters lined in the book and performed in the original mini, I must protest the unsympathetic, growling characterization of Vittorio, Father Ralph's mentor at the Vatican. The writer was dead wrong in having him threaten Ralph with his love for Meggie. "Get over it!" he says, essentially. "Get on with your life!" Vittorio would never have acted so. Maximillian Schell was serious miscasting, but he didn't write his own lines. The same judgments apply regarding the casting and meddling attitude of Meggie's mother- too sensational, too cruel. And out of character.

The confrontation between Ralph and Vittorio comes so early in the story that one is tempted to judge the entire production by it, but it is important to keep watching. Eventually the characters fit in to the almost sacred memories we have of the earlier version and stand as logical segues to the time-line that they must fit into. The son Dane, by the way, is a real goody-goody. I didn't like him as an adult and I didn't like him as a kid, but he was true to character.

Look - Richard Chamberlain is the best. The love story stands. It was the main reason we watched the first one - that and the wonderful performances by the major stars - Kiley, Stanwyck, Simmons. Those folks aren't there; two of them we will never see again, and we will miss them, but we have Richard Chamberlain here again, and he was, after all, the heart of the story.

Look - try thinking of it as a road company performance with a star turn. It's worth seeing. Take another look and see if you don't agree- it's available on tape.

I cried.

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