Murder, She Wrote (1984–1996)
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The Prodigal Father 

The presumed dead perpetrator of a 20-year-old bank robbery resurfaces, then is murdered.


Anthony Pullen Shaw (as Anthony Shaw)


Peter S. Fischer (created by), Richard Levinson (created by) | 3 more credits »

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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Angela Lansbury ... Jessica Fletcher
Claudia Christian ... Bonnie Jenks Hastings
Don Galloway ... Elton Summers
Robert Lansing ... Herb Walsh
Ron Masak ... Sheriff Mort Metzger (as Ron Másak)
Kathleen Nolan ... Maxine Malloy
Richard Paul ... Mayor Sam Booth
Andrew Prine ... Gil Blocker
Donnelly Rhodes ... Ned Jenks
Abe Vigoda ... George
Larry Wilcox ... Dave Hastings
Will Nye ... Deputy Floyd
Mark Roberts ... Dr. Lyle Rush
Robin Gordon Robin Gordon ... Linda
Mindy Ann Martin Mindy Ann Martin ... Sally Hastings


Ned Jenks, who was presumed dead since a bank robbery 20 years ago, returns to Cabot Cove, where his now adult daughter, Bonnie, is married to Dave Hastings. Plenty of villagers lost savings or their job in the robbery and threaten Ned. After he is strangled, Mort arrest Dave as the killer used wire stolen from his truck. Jessica, however, discovers the whole truth about the robbery and sets a trap. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

strangulation | See All (1) »


Crime | Drama | Mystery


TV-PG | See all certifications »






Release Date:

10 March 1991 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Television See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


[first lines]
Jessica Fletcher: Perhaps the Queen would care for another chocolate chip cookie?
Sally Hastings: No. The Queen is on a diet.
Jessica Fletcher: Oh. Oh, well, in that case, the last one is yours.
Sally Hastings: Thank you.
See more »

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User Reviews

"The Prodigal Father", murder and a bank robbery
17 October 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.

Without being one of the best episodes of Season 7 (not one of the worst ones either), "The Prodigal Father" is another solid and well-executed episode. There is actually not much wrong with it at all, other than Richard Paul having little to do in a buffoonish role that only got any real development in one episode out of eight ("Town Father") and Abe Vigoda despite being a welcome sight also being under-utilised. It's just that it just misses the extra special spark of the very best 'Murder She Wrote' episodes.

Angela Lansbury and Ron Masak though cannot be faulted, they're such an easy presence and there is a nice tension in how they investigate and solve the murder and the bank robbery. Will Nye plays his dumb character with enough subtlety to avoid being annoying. Claudia Christian and Donnelly Rhodes are particularly very good in their roles, really felt for Bonnie and one really believes that Ned genuinely wants to have a better life and reform despite his past. Larry Wilcox, Robert Lansing and Don Galloway are all solid too. In fact nobody's bad but some have characters more interesting and better used than others.

"The Prodigal Father's" mystery is compelling, not too simplistic and not too confusing either. The solution to the murder is a surprising one and the truth about the bank robbery is not what it seems either. The detective work is very much cohesive.

Production values as always are slick and stylish with some nostalgia induced. The music has energy and has presence but also not making the mistake of over-scoring, while it is hard to forget or resist the theme tune. The writing is thoughtful, cosy and light-hearted while taking itself seriously as well.

Overall, solid and well done. 8/10 Bethany Cox

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